In a direct blow to Amazon.com’s (Nasdaq: AMZN) auction strategy, leading portal site Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) unveiled a new program today that is designed to help sellers with large inventories of items manage their auctions more efficiently.
The new service, known as Yahoo! Auction Express, allows businesses of any size — or even individuals — to automatically upload hundreds of items and conduct multiple auctions simultaneously. Yahoo! also offers instructions on how to use marketing tools and build a loyal community.
This move seems like a bigger threat to Amazon.com than leading auction site eBay(Nasdaq: EBAY). While eBay’s bread-and-butter business is person-to-person auctions, Amazon.com is devoting a lot of resources to merchant auctions. Amazon.com has handpicked a limited number of merchants to participate in its auctions.
More Than 60 Participants Have Signed Up
Now Yahoo! has opened up the arena to pretty much any merchant that wants to use its service. Auction Express has launched with more than 60 participants
“Yahoo! is the one place where sellers can distribute products in multiple formats to the world’s largest consumer audience.” said Tim Brady, vice president of production and executive producer at Yahoo!.
Paul Hendricks, president of Sarotoga Trading Company, one of the merchants that is using the service, estimates that sales have increased more than 200 percent since his company began participating in Auctions Express.
“Being able to manage the administrative side of auction postings off-line is crucial; it virtually eliminates posting redundancy and greatly reduces the time required online in re-posting expired auctions,” Saratoga said. “In the time saved, we offer more products and respond more quickly to customer inquiries.”
How It Works
In addition to having the features available for all Yahoo! auctions, such as the ability to upload photos and block out bad bidders, Yahoo! Express simplifies auctions by giving merchants services that offer flexibility.
For example, merchants on Yahoo! can continue their auctions as long as bidding continues or set a specific time for their auctions to close. By contrast, customers on eBay must conduct their auctions in the allotted time given to them by the Web site. Yahoo! will also let merchants resubmit auctions if they close without a wining bidder. Merchants can also opt to close an auction early if they are satisfied with the current bid price.
In addition, Yahoo! offers marketing tools that will allow sellers to promote their acutions on message boards, newsgroups and other Web sites, as well as send out customized emails to buyers and build a collector’s club to reach current and prospective customers.